What is a Barbet? The Barbet (pronounced bar-BAY) is the quintessential water dog
of France. The name comes from the French word for beard, barbé. The head is strong, broad, and proportionally large, covered with long hair and a distinctive beard. He has a bright, engaging expression. Barbet are rustic, well-balanced dogs. Their defining feature is a coat of thick natural curls, ranging from large and loose to small and tight. All shades of black, gray, brown, fawn; with or without white markings are acceptable. Also “pied”, mostly white with all colors mentioned. A second color other than white is not allowed.
How big do they get? Barbet are medium-sized sporting dogs. Females are 19–22.5 in,
30–45 lbs; Males are 21–24.5 in, 45–60 lbs. When raised and socialized properly Barbet will have the loving, intelligent, and friendly personalities that the breed is known for, no matter the gender.
What is their purpose? Barbet are a sporting breed, originally used to flush and retrieve fallen game in marshes.
What is their history? The Barbet is a very old foundational breed dating back to
the 16th century. References to the breed are found throughout history, but they suffered near
extinction after the World Wars. With the help of preservation breeders throughout Europe, Canada, and the US the breed is slowly growing in numbers. The Barbet is believed to be
in the ancestral lineage of other well-known breeds, including the Bichon, Briard, and Newfoundland.
What are they like to live with? Friendly, joyful, fun-loving, and social; they get along well with others and LOVE to be with their people. They are quirky and clownish, and find a way to make you laugh everyday. Most Barbet have a natural affinity towards children and are inherently gentle with them. They have a calm nature and are easy to live with as long as their exercise needs are being met. They do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. Barbet can be sensitive: they are happy and they want everyone around them to be happy too. They will stress in a home with a lot of yelling and fighting and will shut down if your training methods are harsh. A soft but firm hand is what is best suited to the Barbet.
What about coat care? Barbet have hair, not fur; it grows constantly. Do they shed? Not in the normal way a Lab or Golden does. They lose hair like people do and that hair needs to be brushed and combed out of the coat often to prevent mats. What makes the Barbet coat so wonderful to snuggle also makes it a magnet for outdoor debris. Although much will fall off when the dog shakes off some stays on and comes inside. Pets are frequently kept in a shorter coat for easier maintenance. Ears need to be checked regularly, cleaned as needed, some need hair lightly plucked from the ear canal. The hair between
pads needs to be trimmed. To keep a Barbet in good condition anticipate using a groomer every 4–6 weeks. Expect to pay $75 and up at the groomer.
Are they hypoallergenic? There is no such thing as a true non-allergenic dog.
Those who are normally allergic to dog dander often find they can live with a Barbet.
How do they see? The hair on the head is very light and blows out of their eyes as they move. For the show ring, the hair on the top of the head must reach the bridge of the nose, but it is acceptable to trim and thin the hair between the eyes.
Are they good with other pets? Barbet are good “mixers” and get along well with other dogs. Proper socialization when young, with positive, supervised interactions will result in your dog knowing how to behave with other dogs and enjoy their companionship. When young Barbet puppies are introduced to cats they do very well with them. Barbet are sporting dogs and may chase small pets such as rabbits, hamsters and birds.
Do they need a lot of exercise? Unlike many sporting breeds, they require a moderate amount of regular exercise: walking, swimming, and running free.
Are they easy to train? Barbet are smart! They thrive on positive training
experiences and love to please, but they can bore easily with repetitive drills. You will
need to invest time into socializing, exercising, and training your puppy for them to become
a happy member of the family. Barbet are alert and very loyal. They will bark if someone comes to the door but will take their cue from you and soon settle when they see that you approve of the visitor. By nature the Barbet is not a noisy dog.
What sports do they enjoy? Barbet are already competing in Rally, Obedience, Dock Diving, Barn Hunt, Scent Trials, and Lure Coursing, as well as conformation. Many have become successful therapy dogs.
Do Barbet have any known health issues? They are a generally healthy breed, with an average life expectancy of 12–15 years. Breeders test for hip and elbow dysplasia,
eye disease (entropion, progressive retinal atrophy, and cataracts). Ear problems can occur especially if the dog is often wet. There have been reported some immunity conditions, allergies, cancer, and seizure disorders. A reputable breeder will health test for all they can, and avoid breeding dogs with health issues.